Chapter 21

Spiral

Emily couldn’t believe it, but there was no way Byron would lie to her. Joel, yes, but never Byron.

I regret to inform you that I just encountered a rather inebriated Orpheus staggering about the World’s End. I thought you might like to know in advance of any inevitable mishaps, and would like to assure you that this is entirely Gibson’s doing.’

She looked at her reflection in the mirror, at the blue-haired, bronze-skinned Malkuthian, Emily Fomalhaut. The only ties to her past were the figure, which she hid beneath enough baggy layers to rival Katrina’s fashion sense, and the eyes.

She couldn’t lose the eyes; the eyes had power.

“Well,” she said, “so much for having a nice, peaceful evening before shit hits the fan.”

If the wolf was listening, he didn’t reply.

Emily was halfway across her lounge when a loud and deliberate cough drew her attention to a tiny figure in a trench coat, a single wayward strand of golden hair escaping from beneath a dark woollen cap. Leira could have passed for a ten year old.

“Ye didn’t think ye’d be going to that feckin’ place by yerself, did ye?”

“I don’t need you to look out for me twenty-four seven.”

“Yeah ye do. Ye do stupid shit when I’m not around.”

She couldn’t argue with that, and Byron must have thought it too, since he rarely had reason to send a message Leira’s way.

In turn, Leira had requested Shelley to join them. Unlike Badb and Macha, Anand had kept a low profile during their time as the Daughters of Ernmas and her hands were free of blood, her name clear of crime. The same was true of Nemain too, of course, but Kaori Shimomura had other ways of drawing attention to herself, and the less she knew about Joel’s extra-curricular activities the better. Not that she would have agreed to team up with Shelley, at any rate. Joel Gibson had a lot to answer for.

Shelley met them just outside the Ritches Estate, hiding beneath the hood of her fur-lined coat.

“Just like old times,” said Leira. “I’ve got a tear in me eye.”

“Just try not tae going killing anyone this time,” said Shelley.

“Is that including that rat of an ex-boyfriend of yours, or is he free game?”

“Oh, if ye wanting tae get a piece of him, you’d best be quick about it. I’ve been waiting for a good excuse tae give that bastart a kick tae the groin for a good long while.”

Just like old times indeed. Thin-lipped, with hands buried in her pockets, Emily did her best not to get involved. What little time she had left as Emily Fomalhaut was precious enough without wasting it on some gurning ginger raven without a care for the consequences of his actions. Getting Dante out of the World’s End was her one and only priority.

They approached the industrial ruins from the surface. The underground was too busy, too unpredictable, and all it took was one person to see through their disguises before the names ‘Badb’ and ‘Macha’ echoed through the crowds and the catacombs and into the ears of people who would rather them dead. And, once that happened, the only path to Dante lay through a river of blood.

“What the feck convinced Gibson this would be a good idea?” asked Leira, as they crossed into the warehouse district on the edge of the Old West River. “Even d’Arcadie’s not this big an eejit.”

“Probably thinks this’ll take Dante’s mind off everything,” said Shelley, who knew his mindset better than most. “Drink’s been his answer tae everything that cannae be solved with a shag.”

“Well let’s just be hoping he ain’t trying to get Orpheus laid as well,” said Leira. “See, Lee? This is what ye get fer going into those feckin’ ruins. S’like somebody put some feckin’ hex on the lot of yers to go acting like bleedin’ eejits fer the day or somethin’.”

This is a pretty dense chapter. I hope you’re ready for it!